The struggle of right against might forms the central pillar of the Lion King story but while this may be familiar to millions of children (and their parents) around the globe, the real-world struggle for justice that arose from the animated blockbuster is less well-known outside of the intellectual property law community.
This situation has now been redressed thanks to the publication of "Awakening the Lion – the case of the Lion Sleeps Tonight" by copyright Professor Owen Dean.
Now retired from full-time practice, Prof. Dean continues to act as a consultant to the firm while devoting much of his time and energy to academe. He was a partner at Spoor & Fisher when he took up the cause of the impoverished Linda family in their fight for reparation arising from the rights to the internationally-charted song, "The Lion Sleeps Tonight". The melody had originally been composed by Solomon Linda, who recorded the track in 1939. Having sold away his rights for a pittance, Solomon Linda died virtually a pauper in 1962. This was, however, not the end of the story.
Some 40 years later Prof Dean, acting as counsel for the family, took on some giants of the entertainment world, including the Walt Disney organisation. The result made headlines and legal history – and now the twists and turns of this courtroom battle royal have been chronicled in a book that is fascinating and accessible to academics, students, members of the entertainment industry and the lay reader.
A review of "Awakening the Lion" can be found here. This review is of particular value as it also contains links to background documents relating to the case, the various versions of the song and a BBC World Service podcast outlining the genesis of Mbube and its subsequent evolution into The Lion Sleeps Tonight.
"Awakening the Lion" by Prof. Owen Dean is published by Tafelberg Publishers and the ebook is available from Kalahari.com. and Leisure Books.
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